How to Export Organic Vegetables and Cereal from India

Last Updated at: December 22, 2020
336
Export Organic Vegetables and Cereal
According to official data released on 2nd December 2020, India’s exports witnessed a fall of 9 percent in November 2020. However, the export of fruits and vegetables recorded a positive growth of 5.33% in November 2020 over the corresponding month of last year. 

 

The export of organic products has picked up substantially in recent years. As the world becomes more health-conscious, such products will grow to be even more popular. Over the years, India has become a significant exporter of organic products due to its agricultural prowess. However, starting an organic food business for export purposes requires meticulous planning and execution. With the usage of science and technology in agriculture rising tremendously, we will soon witness an organic farming revolution in India. So, how can you export organic vegetables and cereals from India? In this article, we will take a look at the legal considerations of starting an export-oriented organic business in India.

  1. What are organic products?

  2. Legal requirements for starting an organic business in India

  3. Mandatory licenses and certificates to export organic products

  4. Labelling organic products for export in India

  5. How to export organic vegetables and cereal from India

What are organic products?

As per Indian law, an organic product is one whose production occurs by following specific prescribed standards for organic production. In essence, these production techniques avoid heavy use of human-made fertilisers, opting instead for natural products. Furthermore, the method does not make use of growth regulators, chemical pesticides, and other additives. Genetically-Modified-Organisms or GMOs also do not come under the tag of organic products as they are artificially synthesised. When we look at the modern context, organic farming is a method that aims to cultivate the land by nourishing the soil by the use of natural wastes. Hence, the crops get their supply of nutrients from animal waste, biological materials, beneficial microbes, and farm wastes.

Legal requirements for starting an organic business in India

In recent years, more and more people have been trying to export organic products as the demand for them has risen considerably. The accelerated growth of the organic industry in India is primarily due to the following reasons:

  1. High demand for export to Europe
  2. Lowering of the price difference as technology improves
  3. Better digital awareness and e-commerce penetration
  4. Massive support from the Indian government
  5. A rise in health consciousness

However, to start an organic food business in India, there are a few legal requirements that the entrepreneurs need to take into account. Hence, no companies can name their product to be ‘organic’ if they don’t have the certification to prove it. It is best to contact a legal expert and go through Section 22 of the FSSAI as it details the legal requirements for such businesses. Now, let us take a quick look at the registrations, licenses, and certifications required for such a company.

Get Import-export code

Mandatory licenses and certificates to export organic products

  • First and foremost, organic food businesses in India must have the appropriate FSSAI registration.
  1. Businesses whose turnover does not exceed INR 12 lakh annually, must have an FSSAI Registration.
  2. Businesses whose turnover exceeds INR 12 lakh annually, must obtain an FSSAI State License.
  3. In case the business generates over INR 20 crores annually, it must get an FSSAI Central License.
  • The validity of such an FSSAI registration or license is five years, following which renewal is mandatory.
  • Another mandatory certificate such businesses require is the India Organic Certificate. Companies must display this mark on their outer packaging as per the FSS- Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2011. Further, companies may acquire this certification from either PGS-India or NPOP.
  • Companies can also obtain a voluntary logo from the FSSAI, which certifies that the product is organic.
  • Other requirements for exporting organic fruits and vegetables are as follows;
  1. Phytosanitary certification: Certified by officials of the importing country.
  2. Grade/quality standards: Certification regarding the quality, maturity, size, and grade of the product to export to Europe, the US, or Japan.
  3. Pesticide and contaminants: Check for the tolerance of contaminants and ensure the products fall below the Maximum Residues Levels stipulated by the importing country.
  4. Label Certification: Discussed in detail below.
  5. Import clearance: Customs handling certificate that enables businesses to export goods to other nations.

Labelling organic products for export in India

In India, Section 3 of the NPOP lists the guidelines, rules, and regulations regarding labelling a product organic. It also states that the labelling on the product must clearly define information regarding its status. The type of labels allowed as per this classification are as follows;

  • Single-Ingredient – 100% Organic: These are either raw or processed products that contain only certified organic ingredients. However, this excludes water and salt used for processing but includes all other additives used. Such products generally get the label Produce of Organic Agriculture.
  • Multi-ingredient – 95% Organic: These are either raw or processed products that contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients by material weight. However, this excludes water and salt but includes all other additives used for processing the final product. Such products generally get the label Certified Organic.
  • Multi-ingredient – 70% Organic: These are raw or processed products that contain between 70% to 95% certified organic ingredients by weight. This labelling too excludes water and salt used for processing but includes all other additives. Such products generally get the label Made with Organic Ingredients. Also, such products must explicitly state the number of organic products used and cannot simply use the label Organic.
  • Multi-ingredient – Less than 70% Organic: Raw or processed products that contain below 70% certified organic ingredients. These products may mention what ingredients in them are organic but cannot use the label ‘Organic’.

None of these products can receive a Genetic Engineering(GE) or Genetic Modification(GM) label. Furthermore, they must explicitly state all their additives and ingredients individually along with the relevant weight percentages. The USDA accepts this system of accreditation making it mandatory in case you wish to export organic products to the US. All such businesses should, therefore, get their products inspected and certified by India’s National Accreditation Body.

While exporting to Europe, businesses will have to make sure they comply with Regulation – 178/2002, better known as the General Food Law. All organic products exported to the EU must have the required health certifications and quality certificates. Furthermore, companies must also analyse the model indicated in the International Plant Protection Convention before exporting to Europe. The EU follows one particular model certificate for exports following international guidelines as laid out by the IPPC.

How to export organic vegetables and cereal from India

Hence, here’s a quick recap of how you can export organic products from India.

  1. Register yourself as a valid business entity.
  2. Make sure you obtain all the required Tax registration, such as PAN and GST.
  3. Obtain the DGFT registration, which allows for import and export.
  4. Contact a customs agent and set up the infrastructure to ensure customs handling and clearance. 
  5. Find a suitable buyer in a foreign zone and negotiate a contract or deal with them.
  6. Analyse the Food Laws of the particular country and make a checklist of all the licenses you will need. 
  7. Next, approach the FSSAI for registration and the NPOP for organic product certification.
  8. Obtain the appropriate packaging, labelling and health certificates to make your products ready for export.
  9. Finally, obtain the clearance required from the country you are exporting to. For instance, to ship to the US, you need certification from the National Organic Standards.

How VakilSearch Can Help

  1. Our team of legal experts will help you incorporate and register your business with ease.
  2. We can identify the licenses and registrations that you need to start exporting organic products.
  3. Our lawyers can help you with all documentation necessary.
  4. Furthermore, we also provide services related to customs handling, incorporation, tax registration, and filing and obtaining FSSAI licenses.

 

0

How to Export Organic Vegetables and Cereal from India

336
According to official data released on 2nd December 2020, India’s exports witnessed a fall of 9 percent in November 2020. However, the export of fruits and vegetables recorded a positive growth of 5.33% in November 2020 over the corresponding month of last year. 

 

The export of organic products has picked up substantially in recent years. As the world becomes more health-conscious, such products will grow to be even more popular. Over the years, India has become a significant exporter of organic products due to its agricultural prowess. However, starting an organic food business for export purposes requires meticulous planning and execution. With the usage of science and technology in agriculture rising tremendously, we will soon witness an organic farming revolution in India. So, how can you export organic vegetables and cereals from India? In this article, we will take a look at the legal considerations of starting an export-oriented organic business in India.

  1. What are organic products?

  2. Legal requirements for starting an organic business in India

  3. Mandatory licenses and certificates to export organic products

  4. Labelling organic products for export in India

  5. How to export organic vegetables and cereal from India

What are organic products?

As per Indian law, an organic product is one whose production occurs by following specific prescribed standards for organic production. In essence, these production techniques avoid heavy use of human-made fertilisers, opting instead for natural products. Furthermore, the method does not make use of growth regulators, chemical pesticides, and other additives. Genetically-Modified-Organisms or GMOs also do not come under the tag of organic products as they are artificially synthesised. When we look at the modern context, organic farming is a method that aims to cultivate the land by nourishing the soil by the use of natural wastes. Hence, the crops get their supply of nutrients from animal waste, biological materials, beneficial microbes, and farm wastes.

Legal requirements for starting an organic business in India

In recent years, more and more people have been trying to export organic products as the demand for them has risen considerably. The accelerated growth of the organic industry in India is primarily due to the following reasons:

  1. High demand for export to Europe
  2. Lowering of the price difference as technology improves
  3. Better digital awareness and e-commerce penetration
  4. Massive support from the Indian government
  5. A rise in health consciousness

However, to start an organic food business in India, there are a few legal requirements that the entrepreneurs need to take into account. Hence, no companies can name their product to be ‘organic’ if they don’t have the certification to prove it. It is best to contact a legal expert and go through Section 22 of the FSSAI as it details the legal requirements for such businesses. Now, let us take a quick look at the registrations, licenses, and certifications required for such a company.

Get Import-export code

Mandatory licenses and certificates to export organic products

  • First and foremost, organic food businesses in India must have the appropriate FSSAI registration.
  1. Businesses whose turnover does not exceed INR 12 lakh annually, must have an FSSAI Registration.
  2. Businesses whose turnover exceeds INR 12 lakh annually, must obtain an FSSAI State License.
  3. In case the business generates over INR 20 crores annually, it must get an FSSAI Central License.
  • The validity of such an FSSAI registration or license is five years, following which renewal is mandatory.
  • Another mandatory certificate such businesses require is the India Organic Certificate. Companies must display this mark on their outer packaging as per the FSS- Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2011. Further, companies may acquire this certification from either PGS-India or NPOP.
  • Companies can also obtain a voluntary logo from the FSSAI, which certifies that the product is organic.
  • Other requirements for exporting organic fruits and vegetables are as follows;
  1. Phytosanitary certification: Certified by officials of the importing country.
  2. Grade/quality standards: Certification regarding the quality, maturity, size, and grade of the product to export to Europe, the US, or Japan.
  3. Pesticide and contaminants: Check for the tolerance of contaminants and ensure the products fall below the Maximum Residues Levels stipulated by the importing country.
  4. Label Certification: Discussed in detail below.
  5. Import clearance: Customs handling certificate that enables businesses to export goods to other nations.

Labelling organic products for export in India

In India, Section 3 of the NPOP lists the guidelines, rules, and regulations regarding labelling a product organic. It also states that the labelling on the product must clearly define information regarding its status. The type of labels allowed as per this classification are as follows;

  • Single-Ingredient – 100% Organic: These are either raw or processed products that contain only certified organic ingredients. However, this excludes water and salt used for processing but includes all other additives used. Such products generally get the label Produce of Organic Agriculture.
  • Multi-ingredient – 95% Organic: These are either raw or processed products that contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients by material weight. However, this excludes water and salt but includes all other additives used for processing the final product. Such products generally get the label Certified Organic.
  • Multi-ingredient – 70% Organic: These are raw or processed products that contain between 70% to 95% certified organic ingredients by weight. This labelling too excludes water and salt used for processing but includes all other additives. Such products generally get the label Made with Organic Ingredients. Also, such products must explicitly state the number of organic products used and cannot simply use the label Organic.
  • Multi-ingredient – Less than 70% Organic: Raw or processed products that contain below 70% certified organic ingredients. These products may mention what ingredients in them are organic but cannot use the label ‘Organic’.

None of these products can receive a Genetic Engineering(GE) or Genetic Modification(GM) label. Furthermore, they must explicitly state all their additives and ingredients individually along with the relevant weight percentages. The USDA accepts this system of accreditation making it mandatory in case you wish to export organic products to the US. All such businesses should, therefore, get their products inspected and certified by India’s National Accreditation Body.

While exporting to Europe, businesses will have to make sure they comply with Regulation – 178/2002, better known as the General Food Law. All organic products exported to the EU must have the required health certifications and quality certificates. Furthermore, companies must also analyse the model indicated in the International Plant Protection Convention before exporting to Europe. The EU follows one particular model certificate for exports following international guidelines as laid out by the IPPC.

How to export organic vegetables and cereal from India

Hence, here’s a quick recap of how you can export organic products from India.

  1. Register yourself as a valid business entity.
  2. Make sure you obtain all the required Tax registration, such as PAN and GST.
  3. Obtain the DGFT registration, which allows for import and export.
  4. Contact a customs agent and set up the infrastructure to ensure customs handling and clearance. 
  5. Find a suitable buyer in a foreign zone and negotiate a contract or deal with them.
  6. Analyse the Food Laws of the particular country and make a checklist of all the licenses you will need. 
  7. Next, approach the FSSAI for registration and the NPOP for organic product certification.
  8. Obtain the appropriate packaging, labelling and health certificates to make your products ready for export.
  9. Finally, obtain the clearance required from the country you are exporting to. For instance, to ship to the US, you need certification from the National Organic Standards.

How VakilSearch Can Help

  1. Our team of legal experts will help you incorporate and register your business with ease.
  2. We can identify the licenses and registrations that you need to start exporting organic products.
  3. Our lawyers can help you with all documentation necessary.
  4. Furthermore, we also provide services related to customs handling, incorporation, tax registration, and filing and obtaining FSSAI licenses.

 

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